One of the most important pieces of legislation that was signed into law in 2008 was SB 375 (Steinberg) which requires metropolitan planning organizations to include sustainable communities strategies in their regional transportation plans for the purposes of reducing gas emissions, align planning for transportation and housing, and creating incentives for local governments and developers for the implementations of the strategies. This legislation is a compromise between the building industry, environmental groups, and local governments. The changes in land use and transportation policy made by SB 375 is to assist in advising the goals of AB 32 (Nunez) of 2006 by reducing vehicle miles traveled. Another piece of important environmental legislation was SB 732 (Steinberg) providing a comprehensive statutory framework to implement new programs under Proposition 84 of 2006 which provided $5.4 billion for safe drinking water, water quality and supply, flood control, natural resource protection and park improvements, and establishes the Strategic Growth Council which is to take certain actions with regard to coordinating programs of various state agencies to do the following: (1) improve air and water quality, (2) improve natural resource protection, (3) increase the availability of affordable housing, (4) improve transportation, (5) encourage sustainable land planning, and (6) revitalize urban community centers in a sustainable manner. The Council is to manage and award grants and loans to support the planning and development of sustainable communities.

Another major issue accomplished in the 2008 legislation session was the passage of legislation creating a comprehensive Green Chemistry program. Green Chemistry is the process of reducing or eliminating the use of hazardous materials altogether. For the last century, environmental protection has concentrated on capturing and storing hazardous waste. Green Chemistry is a fundamentally new approach to environmental protection, transitioning away from managing toxic chemicals at the end of the life cycle, to reducing or eliminating their use altogether. Proponents of Green Chemistry point out that with approximately 100,000 different known toxic chemicals used in production today, a comprehensive approach is needed to reduce and eliminate these chemicals. Green Chemistry encourages cleaner and less-polluting industrial processes, and ensures that manufacturers take greater responsibility for the products they produce. In response to the Governor’s initiative, two pieces of major legislation were signed into law implementing several parts of the initiative: SB 509 (Simitian) requires the Right of Toxics Substance Control (DTSC) to establish a Toxics Information Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a decentralized, web-based system for collection, maintenance, and distribution of specified chemical information. It requires DTSC to develop requirements and standards for the Clearinghouse, including that it be capable of displaying updated information and be accessible. It also requires DTSC to consult with other states, the federal government, and other nations in the identification of data for the Clearinghouse, and authorizes DTSC to phase-in access to information and data in the Clearinghouse. AB 1879 (Feuer) requires the DTSC by 1/1/11, to adopt regulations to establish a process by which chemicals or chemical ingredients in products may be identified and prioritized for consideration as being chemicals of concern. It specifies a procedure for the adoption of those regulations, including requiring that the department, in adopting those regulations, prepare a multimedia life cycle evaluation, as defined, and submit the regulations and the multimedia life cycle evaluation to the California Environmental Policy Council for review. The legislation also requires the DTSC to adopt, by 1/1/11, regulations to establish a process by which chemicals of concern in products, and their potential alternatives, are evaluated to determine how best to limit exposure or to reduce the level of hazard posed by a chemical of concern. The regulations would be required to specify actions that the department may take following the completion of the analysis, including imposing requirements to provide additional information, requirements for labeling or other types of product information, controlling access to or limiting exposure, managing the product at the end of its useful life, or funding green chemistry challenge grants, restrictions on the use of the chemicals of concern in the product, or prohibitions on use. Finally, AB 1879 requires the department to establish a Green Ribbon Science Panel to advise the department and the council.

On November 8, 2007, a major oil spill occurred when the container ship of Cosco Busan struck the fender surrounding the footing of the western span of the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay, spewing 58,000 gallons of fuel into the Bay. The governor proclaimed a State of Emergency often visiting the site. A unified response team made up of the California Office of Spill Prevention and Response, under the Department of Fish and Game, the United States Coast Guard, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and representatives of the vessel owner were all to cleanup the spill, also the parent companies, marine spill response corporation and National Response Center were involved in the cleanup, a comprehensive package of bills passed the legislature and signed by the Governor which enhance the state’s oil spill prevention and response. The bills which were part of the package included SB 1217 (Yee) requiring the Board of Pilot Commissioners to submit an annual report to the legislature regarding its licenses and incidents; SB 1627 (Wiggins) moving the Board of Pilot Commissioners under the oversight of the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency and requires the Bureau of State Audits to complete a comprehensive audit of the Board by 10/1/09; SB 1739 (Simitian) ensuring first responders are adequately trained and prepared to take action on marine oil spills by ensuring that routine, thorough emergency drills and practice are taking place; AB 1960 (Nava) creating a comprehensive inland oil spill prevention program; AB 2031 (Hancock) providing a program for training and certification of local government spill response managers, allow managers to train and certify volunteers and offer grants to local governments with jurisdictions over marine waters to deploy oil spill responses equipment; AB 2911 (Wolk) enacting a comprehensive Inland Oil Response and Cleanup Program within the Office of Spill Prevention and Response; AB 2935 (Huffman) requiring the Department of Fish and Game to close waters to fisheries within 24 hours of an oil or other petroleum product spill of 42 gallons or more. The Governor’s administration in addition to these bills, took the following actions to respond to the spill:

1. The Office of Spill Prevention and Response has sped up the response times to oil spills in high traffic ports.

2. The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has improved accuracy of information and is more quickly notifying local governments and neighboring counties.

3. The Administration is developing new guidelines to enhance recovery and rehabilitation of wildlife affected by an oil spill.

4. The 2008-09 State Budget included $300,000 for a 24-hour mandatory program in the San Francisco Bay.

The Governor vetoed the following oil spill legislation: SB 1056 (Migden) requiring the Office of Emergency Services to notify San Francisco Bay Area counties in the event of an oil spill in the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development commission; requires the Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response to promulgate a regulation establishing a minimum two-hour oil spill response time in San Francisco Bay; AB 2032 (Hancock) increasing the maximum oil spill prevention and administrator fund fee from $.05 to $.08 and AB 2547 (Leno) revising the oil spill and response law including revising the definition of “best achievable technology” including that technology that provides the greatest degree of protection taking into consideration processes currently contain in any oil spill contingency or response plan anywhere in the world and amending provisions of law pertaining to an oil spill response organization and establishing a grant program for the development of improved processes and technologies for oil spill prevention, containment, and cleanup.

Another major piece of legislation that was signed into law was SB 1 XX (Perata) which appropriated $842 million in funding from two initiatives passed in 2006 by the voters Propositions 84 and 1E, to improve water supply reliability and conservation in order to take the first steps in providing for water planning and combating the drought.

Other environmental legislation of note chaptered into law included: SB 27 (Simitian) enacting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Emergency Preparedness Act of 2008, which requires the Office of Emergency Services to establish an interagency Multi-Hazard Coordination Task Force for the Delta upon funding made available for that purpose; SB 187 (Ducheny) enhancing the restoration of the Salton Sea; SB 562 (Wiggins) appropriating 2006 Proposition 84 bond funds for coastal salmon and steelhead fishing restoration projects; SB 947 (Hollingsworth) increasing notification and consultation requirements governing lead agencies overseeing significant projects under the California Environmental Quality Act; SB 1016 (Wiggins) shifting the focus, from 50% diversion to 50% disposal reduction, of the current requirement that a local jurisdiction reduce its solid waste disposal over what it would have been given local growth factors; SB 1161 (Lowenthal) extending the authorization of the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund from 1/1/11 to 1/1/16, and establishing the Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Contamination Orphan Site Cleanup Fund in the State Treasury; SB 1166 (Cox) exempting law enforcement officers from the ban against armed persons entering state game refuges, requiring the Department of Fish and Game to provide more information on the location and boundaries of game refuges and their potential closure, and clarifying defensible space requirements and recasts them in terms of fuels management instead of vegetation management, requiring the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to map Santa Ana, Mono, and Diablo winds that have been identified as a major cause of wildfire spread; SB 1262 (Cogdill) excluding fish produced for mitigation purposes from the computation of state restoration goals requiring that 25% of fish produced by state fish hatcheries are used for purposes of initiating and managing naturally indigenous stocks of trout; SB 1277 (Maldonado) requiring a study comparing the effects of synthetic turf and natural turf on the environment and public health; SB 1285 (Corbett) requiring the Department of General Services to convene a workgroup to develop and adopt standards subject to the approval of the Resources Agency for appraisal of resource conservation acquisitions; SB 1357 (Padilla) expending up to $20 million for grants for beverage container and litter programs; SB 1431 (Wiggins) permitting the Department of Parks and Recreation to acquire conservation easements and to make grants to a state or local government agency or nonprofit land trust to purchase and hold a conservation easement; SB 1436 (Ducheny) extending the sunset date for two years of the California Endangered Species Act that excepts the accidental take of candidate, threatened, or endangered species that results from acts that occur during the course of otherwise lawful “routine and ongoing” agricultural activities; SB 1464 (Maldonado) renaming the Resource Agency the Natural Resources Agency; SB 1538 (Steinberg) extending the sunset date for five years on the Department of Fish and Game’s authority to develop and implement a recovery strategy for coho salmon; SB 1595 (Kehoe) clarifying defensible space requirements and recasts them in terms of fuels management instead of vegetation management and requiring the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to map Santa Ana, Mono, and Diablo winds that have been identified as a major cause of wildfire spread; SB 1646 (Padilla) deleting the 2010 sunset date on the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s authority to impose an additional $1 fee on motor vehicles that are registered within its district boundaries to fund programs to reduce air pollution from motor vehicles; SB 1690 (Wiggins) requiring the Ocean Protection Council to make a grant, upon appropriation of funding by the Legislature, for a Dungeness crab task force, and specifies the membership and duties of the task force; AB 31 (De Leon) renaming the Urban Park Act of 2006, the Statewide Park Development and Community Revitalization Act of 2008, and recasting most of its provisions in order to make grants to underserved communities statewide suffering from significant park and economic poverty; AB 109 (Nunez) revising and clarifying provisions of two programs enacted by AB 118 (Nunez), Chapter 750, Statues of 2007, relative to alternative fuels, vehicle technologies, and air quality funding programs; AB 1225 (DeSaulnier) permitting the use of California Ocean Protection Trust Fund monies to fund adaptive management, planning, coordination, monitoring, research, and other necessary activities to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change on California’s ocean ecosystem; AB 1338 (Assembly Budget Committee) enacting the 2008-09 Resources Budget Trailer Bill; AB 1883 (La Malfa) permitting the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to enter into a contract with a qualified nonprofit organization, in addition to a public agency, for the use of inmates or wards for fire prevention, fire control, and other work of the department, or “other conservation projects” that are appropriate for the nonprofit organization; AB 2045 (De La Torre) updating, revising, and recasting the California urban Forestry Act of 1978 to highlight the role trees play in sequestering greenhouse gases, improving air and water quality, conserving energy, and providing other environmental benefits; AB 2065 (Hancock) requiring an entity that owns or manages a water reservoir or other waterway open to the public to take certain measures to prevent the introduction and spread of Quagga mussels in the entity’s water system; AB 2071 (Karnette) establishing penalties for failure to comply with labeling requirements for compostable and biodegradable plastic bags and plastic food and beverage containers sold in California; AB 2162 (Mullin) extending the effective date of existing law providing for the Bay-Delta Sport Fishing Enhancement Stamp to 1/1/10; AB 2222 (Caballero) requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to develop a report on groundwater contamination and quality; AB 2286 (Feuer) setting a deadline of 1/1/10, for the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency to establish a statewide information management system for the Certified Unified Program Agency program; AB 2347 (Ruskin) requiring thermostat manufacturers, as defined, to establish and mercury-added thermostat collection and recycling program; AB 2356 (Arambula) requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to take specified actions when allocating funds to small, disadvantaged communities for wastewater collection; AB 2437 (Ruskin) extending state oversight over San Francisco’s capital improvements of its Hetch Hetchy water system; AB 2494 (Caballero) establishing the Housing-Related Parks Program, to be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, for the purpose of providing park grants to cities and counties based on the number of units of low-income affordable housing for which construction is started; AB 2522 (Arambula) permitting the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District to increase the existing fee authority to up to $30 per motor vehicle in order to establish and implement incentive-based programs to achieve surplus emissions reductions; AB 2679 (Ruskin) enhancing the enforcement responsibilities of the solid waste law, as specified; AB 2729 (Ruskin) establishing, until 7/1/14, the School District Account in the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund, to provide reimbursement for specified cleanup costs of school districts with petroleum underground storage tanks; AB 2730 (Leno) clarifying eligibility for handling fees for nonprofit recycling centers where the center’s existence allows for the exemption of supermarket recycling center mandate; AB 2785 (Ruskin) requiring the Department of Fish and Game, contingent upon funding, to investigate, study, and identify those areas in the state most essential as wildlife corridors and habitat linkages; AB 2859 (Gaines) conditionally exempting from the need to prepare a timber harvest plan, the removal of trees from a firebreak or fuel break, and allowing more comprehensive vegetation removal in a declared infestation or infection area; AB 2901 (Brownley) permitting the Department of Toxic Substances Control to take specified measures to enforce compliance with existing prohibitions on lead in jewelry and on packaging containing regulated metals, as specified; AB 2922 (DeSaulnier) updating and clarifying the Air Resources Board’s authority to impose penalties for violation of rules and regulations relating to the control of vehicular air pollution; AB 2945 (Laird) permitting a state agency that is managing a wilderness area to determine the minimum management actions needed to manage the area and the minimum tools needed to achieve those minimum management actions; AB 2954 (Lieber) establishing the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority as a regional entity to raise and allocate resources for the restoration, enhancement, protection, and enjoyment of wetlands and wildlife habitat in San Francisco Bay and along its shoreline; AB 2991 (Nunez) adding two climate change experts to the Air Resources Board’s nine-member Research Screening Committee, and expanding the charge of the Committee to include reviewing climate change-related research; and AB 3025 (Lieber) prohibiting wholesalers from selling expanded polystyrene loosefill packaging material beginning 1/1/12.

Vetoed environmental legislation of note included: SB 68 (Kuehl) revising California Environmental Quality Act judicial review procedures to clarify that recipients of a project approval identified by the lead agency are the real parties in interest that must be named by the plaintiff in an appeal of the lead agency’s decision; SB 899 (Simitian) requiring the establishing of a program to reduce and recover derelict fishing gear; SB 908 (Simitian) adding climate change to the list of environmental education topics that shall be included in the revision of the science framework; SB 1102 (Machado) repealing the California Bay-Delta Authority Act; SB 1391 (Padilla) requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt a recycled water policy; SB 1557 (Wiggins) incorporating the goal of greenhouse gas emission reductions into the state’s planning priorities related to land development; SB 1573 (Florez) assigning responsibility for prescribing Smog Check emission standards to the Air Resources Board; SB 1574 (Florez) setting interim standards for underground storage tanks that contain biodiesel blends; SB 1760 (Perata) formalizes the structure and duties of the Climate Action Team to coordinate climate policy and expenditure of state funds; SB 1762 (Perata) creating the California Climate Change Institute at the University of California; AB 169 (Levine) enhancing the regulation and enforcement of ballast water discharge standards; AB 815 (Berryhill) making findings regarding the Legislature’s jurisdiction over fish and game matters that cite case law, Attorney General opinions, and the state constitution; AB 1017 (Ma) establishing a 30-60-day deadline for bringing an appeal of a California Environmental Quality Act action taken by a non-elected decision-making body (e.g., planning department or commission) to the elected body (e.g., city council/board of supervisors); AB 1391 (Brownley) requiring a retailer of an electronic device to provide a customer with specified information relating to electronic waste recycling; AB 1806 (Wolk) requiring the Department of Fish and Game to prepare and implement protocols for fish rescue and relocation plans and actions for Delta fishery resources; AB 1946 (Nava) extending the statute of limitations from one year to five years for specified violations of hazardous material release response plans; AB 1950 (Lieu) establishing a new class of vessels called “surrendered vessels” and authorizing their sale to local law enforcement or harbor departments prior to them being abandoned; AB 2046 (Jones) requiring an urban water management plan to include more information about the availability of groundwater; AB 2132 (Houston) making it unlawful to remove the collar of a hunting dog with the intent to prevent the owner of the dog from recovering it; AB 2270 (Laird) requiring additional reporting on recycled water and allowing local limitations on salinity inputs; AB 2455 (Laird) creating a State Parks Preservation Board; AB 2504 (DeSaulnier) requiring the Delta Protection Commission to adopt a tourism and marketing plan for the Delta consistent with the Delta Protection Act and the policies of the Commission’s Resource Management Plan; AB 2532 (Laird) encouraging the promotion of co-managed pilot fishery projects, and permitting the Department of Fish and Game to develop management frameworks for marine fisheries; AB 2923 (Evans) amending the California Wilderness Act by requiring the Secretary of the Resources Agency to review state-owned roadless areas under his/her jurisdiction; AB 2970 (Eng) requiring the Department of Water Resources to produce a biennial report on the existing delivery capability and reliability of the State Water Project and the total amount of water allocated to each State Water Project contractor; and AB 2986 (Leno) requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to review, grade, and monitor specified sewage collection systems and treatment plants.